Perhaps the best relationships between financial advisors and their clients are based on a holistic approach to life planning in which your hopes, your fears and your dreams form the basis of your plan for financial well-being. To design that plan, your advisor needs to understand the choices you make in terms of your lifestyle and your purpose, and how those affect your finances.
Whether you’re working with a new advisor or checking in with someone you’ve worked with for years, building a relationship based on trust takes openness. Particularly as you begin working with an advisor for the first time, it can be hard to know what to share. You might find it fun to talk about things that make you enthusiastic, or uncomfortable to open up about such personal issues as your health or your relationships.
Skilled advisors will guide you through a conversation that helps them get the information they need about your personal circumstances. They will also let you know what documents to bring so they can get a complete picture of your financial assets.
In addition, however, this checklist can help you consider some general themes in advance of your meeting so you can be extra prepared. See which questions jump out as being particularly relevant for you, and make sure they are part of your conversation with your advisor.
- What are you most passionate about?
- Who are the important people in your life? Are there any important events coming up, such as a wedding or the birth of a baby?
- Where are you in your career? Are you happy with your work? Have you recently had, or are you planning, a career change?
- Are there charitable causes or social issues that are important to you? Do you have a sense of how much you feel comfortable contributing to these causes?
- What are some of your favorite activities? Do you have anything coming up in this area, such as a dream vacation? How do you budget for these activities?
- What is your housing situation? Are you planning any changes, such as the purchase or renovation of a home?
- How is your health? Do you or anyone close to you have health concerns? Do you know how much you should budget for healthcare costs?
- How did your parents approach their finances? What were some of the important things you learned about money when you were growing up? Do you still find these to be true?
- What spending decisions are you making today that you’ll be happy about a year from now?
- What are your most important financial goals? These might include saving for college, planning for income in retirement or protecting your assets from market volatility. How will these change in the coming years?
- What do you include in your monthly budget? What are your top priorities?
- What do you do when you are facing an unexpected financial challenge?
- What plans do you have in place for financial emergencies?